Chinese green fuels company MotionEco has launched a scheme in the city of Nanjing to collect used cooking oil (UCO) and gutter oil and convert them into renewable fuels for use in diesel vehicles.

The project – called the Sustainable Oil Alliance – was a collaborative effort between MotionEco and the global oil company Shell and was one of the first commercial schemes to collect UCO by using a completely open and transparent tracking system for sourcing the feedstock, wrote China Daily on 24 August.

Liu Shutong, founder of MotionEco, said the aim of the initiative was to address China’s problem of UCO being sold illegally for reuse in food production as gutter oil.

China is the world’s largest cooking oil consumer and generates millions of tonnes of UCO annually, around which had formed an illegal industry that filtered UCO from restaurant fryers, sewer drains, grease traps and other sources for resale, wrote China Daily.

The gutter oil, as the product was called in China, had been linked to causing illness and even some forms of cancer, but still found regular use due to being cheaper than genuine cooking oil.

To address the problem, MotionEco was now working to create a distribution channel for the production and consumption of gutter oil-based renewable diesel that could not only eliminate gutter oil from the food chain but also provide high quality transport fuels that could cut CO2 emissions by 90%, said Liu.

“We want to convert every city into a green oilfield, to collect and convert the local waste oil into green fuel, supply it to the local logistics fleet, to keep the food safe and at the same time contribute to the environment,” Liu said.

The company was aiming to supply 50,000 litres of renewable diesel to Nanjing this year.

“What we’re trying to do is create a market for renewable diesel made from UCO that can be used in transportation, public services and logistics – anywhere that conventional diesel is used. In that way, we break the cycle of cooking oil reuse in kitchens to provide clean, sustainable low-carbon fuels,” Liu explained.

He added that the project would become commercially viable once the firm established a chain for collection and converting the UCO and finally selling it to transportation companies.

MotionEco – headquartered in Shanghai – is a leading Chinese proponent on UCO and green fuels, such as waste-based biodiesel and hydrotreated vegetable oil.